Coin Specifications

Category: Classic Head $5 (1834-1838)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 286,588
Obverse Designer: William Kneass
Reverse Designer: William Kneass
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 8.3600g
AGW: 0.2416oz
Melt Value: $424.19 (9/19/2021)
Diameter: 22.5mm
Edge: Reeded
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1838 $5 MS obverse 1838 $5 MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

Mint records indicate that the Philadelphia Mint coined 286,588 half eagles during the year from two die combinations, each with different obverse and reverse dies. Although it cannot be stated with certitude how many of each variety the Mint produced, a likely division is about 175,000 examples of the more common Large Arrows, Small 5 variety and the balance the Small Arrows, Large 5. The present example is the Small Arrows, Large 5 variant, which is considerably rarer than the other variety. In their 2006 Gold Encyclopedia Garrett and Guth comment, 'The typical 1838 half eagle falls into the Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated range, with the largest population bunched at the AU-58 level. In Mint State, the population drops off dramatically and virtually stops at MS-64.?

The Classic Head design dates to August 1834, when the gold content of the quarter eagle and half eagle was reduced. Before that time, our national gold coinage had a melt or gold value that was greater than the face value, so those coins already in circulation were quickly removed and hoarded, or melted, and those who owned gold bullion refused to have it struck into coins. As a result, gold coins from the years before 1834 have become major rarities today. The Classic Head coinage, first struck in August 1834, was an instant success, due simply to the slight weight reduction, from 8.75 grams to 8.31 grams. This change represented a 5% weight reduction and a similar reduction in value from a little over five dollars per coin to a little under five dollars per coin. The Mint Act of June 28, 1834, was the authorizing legislation to reduce the weight of the coins, and was written to take force on August 1. To further enable the populace to readily distinguish the new lower-weight coinage, Mint personnel removed the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM and its scroll from the reverse. The language of the coinage act included a weight reduction for the ten dollar gold eagle, even though such a coin had not been struck for circulation in 30 years. It nonetheless remained a legally authorized denomination, and accordingly had to be included in the new law. The first new ten dollar gold pieces of the lower weight standard would not roll from the mint presses until some four years later, in 1838.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 10/19/2020

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1838 $5 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 575 600 625 850 925 1375 1625 1950 3350 5100 5750 7300 13000 26000 110000 300000 - - - -
$ - - - - 3800 - - - 14500 - 215000 - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 739
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 64

The chart showing PrAg series, G series, VG series, F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 9/14/2021 1838 $5 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base21253643114589114214883629177------739
-----------------------
--------------1-------1
-----------------------
Total21253643114589114214883629187------740
 0%0%0%1%5%6%15%8%12%19%20%1%5%4%2%1%------ 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1838 $5 MS PL
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1111111111111111111111
1111111111111111111111
0000001111111111111100
0000001111111111111100
1838 $5 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1116428201051149918432229244827382910300933654472508290841254418171267393993060457
1121470189712001613197123022544279529433127373446756416102371441921027311364677263480
00000016131971230225442795294331273734467564161023714419210273113600
00000017282100237526412852297632464103487877501139016295238833553300
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 63
Points: 4472
Owner: Coin Guy
 
Grade: MS 63
Points: 4472
Owner: scotty's gold
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.